The  fourth sermon in our series “Conversations with Jesus” from John’s Gospel. Today’s passage: John 9:1-41.

You may download the PDF CONNECT group questions here.

Today’s sermon recording is from Ruth Craven which was recorded at Peregian. Due to a technical issue the sermon from The Rev’d Chris Ivey at the Tewantin service is not available. However, you may read Rev’d Ivey’s sermon below.

________

“Jesus and the Man Born Blind”, by Rev. Chris Ivey

  • Do you love those books or movies where you think you know what’s going to happen next, but a new twist comes in!
  • The author introduces a new setting a new character, a new idea
  • And just when you think you know, you’re confused again.
  • Today we are going to encounter a story with a man about which we knowvery little, his parents, some friends, the neighbours, the pharisees, the disciples and Jesus. And John takes us on a really interesting story, the point of which is simple.
  • Jesus is Lord, he is the light of the world. And we can either choose to see and believe or see and deny.
  • As we know Jesus ministry and reputation has been growing and he is beginning to reveal more about himself and what he is going to do.
  • In our series, we are looking at the conversations that Jesus had with people and asking three questions
  • What does this scene reveal about the characters and the context of the narrative?
  • What does Jesus claim about himself in this interaction?
  • What are its implications for us today in understanding who Jesus is fromthis conversation?
  • Today we discover what appears to be a simple miracle of sight.
  • However, what we soon discover is that this blind man is going to have the opportunity for a new life.
  • He is going to get a lot more than he bargained for!
  • This man is going to embark on a journey of faith. He is not going to simplyconfess Jesus as his Lord, this man will have to embark on a journey, be challenged about what happened and actually speak truth about who Jesus is.
  • Let’s walk that journey as we address those three questions.
  • We start our story with the first interaction of the man born blind.
  • when Jesus was with the disciples, they saw the man and began to questionhim about whose sin made this person blind.
  • In those days, being blind was a sentence to poverty, there was not muchone could do other than to beg for what they needed to survive, or to rely

    on family.

  • For this man, we also find from the text that he was blind from birth.
  • The disciples asked Jesus the question because the thinking of the day wasthat people struck with such an illness was as a direct result of someone’s

    sin.

  • We do not know a lot about this man other than he is blind from birth andthat his parents are still living.
  • The question as to why he was blind is posed to Jesus.
  • Vs 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” Jesus answered. This cameabout so that God’s works might be displayed in him.
  • So, Jesus does not answer their question directly, but He says that this man’s tragedy came about so that God’s works MIGHT be displayed in him.
  • Jesus is and continues to reveal himself, both that he is the Son of God, butthat he also has a task to do.
  • We hear his claim I am the light of the world. He is speaking into the oldtestament of hope.
  • A new insight for the disciples, Jesus is going to shine his light into the darkness, he is going to fulfil the prophets promise of a messiah.
  • In verse 6 we see the initiative for the whole miracle comes from Jesus himself. All through this is to be the work of God, sheer grace, sheer kindness.
  • That in everything that God does, is to reveal his Kingdom.
  • So back to the story
  • Jesus then begins in verse 6 to mix some mud and spit together and thenproceeds to rub it on the eyes of the blind man.
  • At this point, the blind man does not know what is happening, he does notknow Jesus yet.
  • However, Jesus then tells this spit mud covered man to do something.
  • He tells the man to go to the pool of Siloam (SI LOW UM).
  • Here the blind man is sent to water which, in the perspective of theChristian Church is the symbol of our returning to Christ.
  • The name Siloam is understandably emphasised by John for it means sent.
  • This is a pretty common part of Jesus teaching now.
  • The one who is to be a new disciple (the man blind) is sent to his baptism,the cleansing with water.
  • And through this baptism a new identification with Jesus.
  • He went and washed and could see.
  • The light of the world had not only shone on the blind man but had shoneinto and through him so that he could now see the world into which God’s

    light daily shone.

  • And this begins to unpack itself in the next part of our story. The first twist.
  • Now you would think everyone would be rejoicing over the fact that thisman who was once blind can now see!
  • What should have been a joyful time turned into an inquisition.
  • When the once blind mand resumed his place in Jerusalem, both hisneighbours and those who had seen him begging were puzzled.
  • Something had happened, something beyond normal understanding
  • And the question troubling them was, whether or not this was the same man?
  • The awesome part about this is how John portrays this man.
  • We appreciate it this side of this cross, for here John shares with us that theman born blind is being represented as a new creation, remade by Christ.
  • He was revealing his ability to bring life and light – in Christ.
  • And so back to our friends….there is uncertainty, it is him or isn’t it?
  • The man confidently says..It’s me. I am the man or literally translated, I am
  • John is subtly indicating how the gift of sight has more been MORE than theprovision of the use of a sense, but indeed the making of a new creation.
  • The friends and neighbours then ask how?
  • How were your eyes opened? The man called Jesus
  • So the neighbours and friends seem to be OK and after clearing things up,we assume it’s pretty positive.
  • But now the plot thickens.
  • The healing had taken place on the Sabbath
  • So the man is taken to the Pharisees.
  • He repeats his story and recounted in simple terms, the sequence of events.
  • And the response from the Pharisees is again really interesting
  • One the one hand we have the standard response, he is not from God for he does not keep the Sabbath
  • Though others argued, how can he, who is a sinner, do such signs?
  • So they ask the once blind man…what do you say about him?
  • The man, replies as we know, he is a prophet
  • Already and without further ‘sight’ of Jesus himself, he is prepared to affirmmore about Jesus than…he was ‘just another man’.
  • It doesn’t go the whole way to declare who Jesus really is and probably fallsshort of the confession that the authorities sought.
  • But for the moment it is interesting and significant to notice the growinginsight of the healed man.
  • So, surprise, surprise, there is speculation about the validity of this man, solet’s roll out the next scene with the parents.
  • The desire to interview the parents arose from the dilemma which theycould not resolve
  • If such an evidently divine miracle had taken place, the person doing itwould have known not to do so on the sabbath.
  • There must be some error in the reports reaching them so let’s bring in theparents.
  • As we know, that interview didn’t help them much
  • They established he was their son and he was born blind but beyond that the parents accept no responsibility. He is of age. In other words, keep us out of this!
  • They knew the consequence of confessing Jesus as Lord – excommunication from the synagogue.
  • And so we read for the second time, the man is interrogated
  • Only this time they’ve decided that Jesus has broken the sabbath law andmust be a sinner. Which is why they decide to ask the man to give God the

    praise.

  • This is a phrase from the old Testament, Joshua Chapter 9, where
  • you will see the line, Give God the praise, which literally means, admit thetruth.
  • The catch here is that the authorities can not forget that Jesus is a sinnerbecause of what he has done
  • And the man can’t forget that he has been healed.
  • Whether he is a sinner or not, I do not know; one thing I know, that I thoughI was blind, now I see. Vs 25
  • This man has a backbone. In the face of opposition, he doesn’t back down.
  • In a last ditch attempt the authorities ask how it all happened
  • And of course, a little tired of all the questions and no one actually listening to him, the man replies I’ve told you this….do you want to become his disciples?
  • The blind man makes a defence for Jesus saying no one in history has healed blindness and that unless Jesus was from God, he would not have been able to heal him!
  • That the blind will receive their sight is, in the Old Testament, one of the promises that belong to the messianic age.
  • The Gospels both record that Jesus gave sight to the blind and point to this as one of the signs of the dawning of a new age
  • So we have the blind man pointing out the validity of who Jesus might be and then accusing them of wanting to be a disciple of Jesus.
  • Whereas his parents were afraid to get banished from the synagogue.
  • This man stood firm
  • And, despite his limited knowledge claims something very profound, thatthis Man is of God.
  • The man born blind contradicts their ridiculous claims that they are fromMoses and don’t know where Jesus comes from.
  • The blind man is steadfast. This man, Jesus, he heals and this hasn’t beendone before
  • And rather than nodding, accepting they were wrong, the pharisees stand on their high morals and in verse 34, they kick him out!
  • Now, we move away from this aspect of the story and swing back to Jesus.
  • Jesus was not looking to heal the man and forget him.
  • Verse 35 tells us that Jesus heard the man had been thrown out, and Jesuswent and found him.
  • The issue of being thrown out of the synagogue would have many negativeeffects on the man, so Jesus looks for him.
  • To be excommunicated was to be put in a position where no true Israelitewould have anything to do with you.
  • But the one who is and represents the new age of the Messiah actsotherwise.
  • Jesus has a conversation with him, seeking to take the man to a deeperlevel of faith!
  • Do you believe in the Son of Man?
  • The man responds with a question. Who is this man?
  • I don’t think the man born blind is asking what the Son of Man refers to, itwas a common element in Jewish religious expectation.
  • He was asking with what person, if any, the figure might be identified
  • And the response from Jesus is so clear as he reveals something of himself
  • You have seen him.
  • Tough respond to comprehend
  • What’s going on here?
  • Now, with the power of sight given to him by Jesus, he can see beyond thephysical that he now enjoys to the reality of who Jesus is
  • Lord I believe
  • This is the real miracle of the miracle.
  • As the earlier Gospels had made clear, healing miracles were not unknownamong the Jews.
  • What made this one unique was in part for the first time in history sight hadbeen given and not just restored;
  • But in greater, the sight enabled this man to look at the human Jesus andsee the heavenly Son of Man.
  • Sight had been given with insight. It was a sign by which people may bebrought to see Jesus
  • But Jesus finishes with a strong warning
  • He openly affirms that his ministry causes a judgment or a division amongthe people.
  • Some believe, and some don’t. Now he reveals the true significance of hisclaim to be the “Light of the World.”
  • Verse 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment, in order that those who do not see will see and those who do see will become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these things and asked him, “We aren’t blind too, are we?” 41 “If you were blind,” Jesus told them, “you wouldn’t have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
  • The sight which Jesus gave to the man born with none is a sight enabling him to recognise Jesus as the Son of Man
  • This is Jesus revealing that he is God, from the Father, but in this story, the focus is on how others respond, as people come to see or not to see the reality of what happened when Jesus conquered death.
  • Verse 39 is a searching statement. There is nothing automatic about either sight of the blind man or the blindness of the Pharisees.
  • The Pharisees ask, are we also blind?
  • Jesus response seems to indicate that seeing in the sense of believing orbeing blind in the sense of not believing is a fully voluntary and responsible

    act of the person

  • If you were blind you would have no guilt
  • That is to say, if your inability to confess me as the Son of Man were anaffliction like physical blindness there could be no possible blame attaching to their unbelief
  • But that is not the case, for the pharisees profess to know and see. Therefore, their blindness is not an affliction for which they can not be blamed but an act of refusal for which they must accept responsibility.
  • The Blind Man saw Jesus and believed. The Pharisees saw Jesus and did not.
  • He revealed himself as he does today and the questions is how we respond.
  • Jesus is the spiritual Light. Some gain sight (faith) because of him. Othersend up with no spiritual sight (unbelief) because of him.
  • What does this mean for us?
  • We can give thanks that because of what Jesus has done, we are a newCreation.
  • Friends, knowing we are a new creation, brought into Christ’s light will usgive thanks and praise
  • It gives us confidence, as the blind man had, that our identity in Christ willhelp us live for Him at every moment of our lives, despite the challenges

    that others will bring before us

  • It will help us to know that this world is not our real home, but that our realhome is heaven. We aren’t beholden to the ties of this world as the

    Pharisees were to their synagogue

  • It will help us to body say, as the blind man did. I believe
  • Through this extraordinary conversation with the blind man, Jesus reveals himself once again as the son of God, able to restore people into a right relationship with him
  • He has the power to do all things and in response to his call we believe, we give thanks and we follow.